Thoughts On the Wasp Who Entered Home Land from Marilise Tronto

“We have to learn to reconnect with ourselves so we can stand for something greater than ourselves.”                                  —Dawna Markova, from I Will Not Die An Unlived Life

Christopher has invited me to share some thoughts about the wasp who entered Home Land. I am grateful for this opportunity to express my admiration for Home Land and to acknowledge the collaborative gifts of its writer, director, cast, crew and production team—gifts given generously so that through Home Land, the theatre could offer its gift—the living of greater life.

I asked if the wasp had emerged before or after the writing of Standing Bear’s new line: “Do you realize what’s been set in motion?” The answer was: “After.” The wasp’s appearance suggests to me what Home Land has set in motion—and what was set in motion long before the play was penned.

Home Land has arrived in a time when Elders of many native nations are sharing their wisdom, knowing their respectful relationship with all of life is crucial for others to understand. How we live with each other and with Earth is determining our future. The flow of energy between the native and non-native worlds has many rivers, including Ancient Voices – Contemporary Contexts—forums created by the American Indian Institute ( to answer the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth’s request to share their perspectives with the non-native world. (To watch a 14-minute video of Elders speaking at the September 2008 Ancient Voices Forum at Flathead, Montana, visit:

At the Forum community dinner at the Flathead reservation, Bob Staffanson—now age 87—told this story of how he came to create the American Indian Institute. More than 30 years ago, he attended a Blood Nation medicine camp in Alberta, Canada. A guest of friends from the Blackfeet Nation, Bob was the only non-native in the camp. During a ceremony, a bird appeared. It was black, with burning red eyes that emanated intense energy. The bird hopped around the circle, landing on the foot of each participant; then vanished.

Shortly after Bob returned home from the camp, he was mowing his lawn when something landed on his head. It was the red-eyed bird. When Bob reached up to touch it, the bird hopped onto his shoulder and stayed there as Bob worked; then vanished.

Around 6:00 the next morning, Bob rose and went downstairs. It had been a cold night and all the windows and doors in his home were shut tight. The same bird was now sitting on the back of his sofa, energy pouring from its red eyes. It regarded him steadily; then vanished.

Bob realized this was no ordinary bird. He understood he had to do something in response to his experiences in the medicine camp. His decision changed the course of Bob’s life and the lives of many when he founded the Institute to support the traditional knowledge and cultures of Native North America. What was set in motion by the visiting bird with red eyes has impacted thousands of Indian people, and is now expanding into a wider circle—one including all peoples.

In some cultures, recovery from snake bite or scorpion sting is considered an initiation. In the Peruvian Andes, a person who survives being struck by lightning often becomes a medicine person. In Nebraska, everyone present was touched by witnessing the wasp who chose to visit, not to sting. Perhaps this unusual behavior acknowledged the unusual powers of the play.

Perhaps this stinging insect, who chose not to sting, suggests how we can choose to live with what is home, with all our relations. The wasp’s home—for its nest was in the tree that became the set—became a home for the vessel of radiant energies named Home Land.

“We make a home for each other, my grandfather and I. Do you know what I mean by a home?  I don’t mean a regular home. I mean I don’t mean what other people mean when they speak of a home, because I don’t regard a home as a . . . well, as a place, a building . . . a house . . . of wood, bricks, stone. I think of a home as being a thing that two people have between them in which each can . . . well, nest—rest—live in, emotionally speaking. Does that make any sense to you…?”

          —Hannah Jelkes, in The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams

Published in: on June 11, 2009 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Little Help

Yesterday I was getting ready to update our blog when I realized it’s been almost exactly a month since we all met in Lincoln.  I also realized that since it has already been a month the notion of “timeliness” (in terms of discussion topics) isn’t exactly on my side anymore.  In short, I couldn’t think of anything to write about without a little voice saying, “well yeah, but that happened a month ago.  Is it really worth writing about now?”  And the cynic in me said, “I don’t even know if anyone is still reading this blog.”  That said, I need your help…

I want you guys to help me out with keeping the experience, the play, the friendships, the family, and the changes alive.  Maybe my ideas have become untimely, but I think our experience together has had a timeless effect.  I want to hear from all of you constantly—what’s going on in your lives?  What’s next for you?  And, of course, the general ‘How are you doing?’—so that what I continue to write about isn’t simply, “Look at me still writing about something that happened a while ago with me and some people I spent a week with and haven’t heard from since.”  Instead, it’s up to all of us to keep this experience and these friendships alive so that I can keep recording our experience.   Also, general advice is always welcome… advice on things you’d like to hear about, advice on how we can all find a way to come together again, anything.

So, until I hear back from you I leave you with this.  This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors (you may have already seen it on my Facebook page) and as I went back and re-read it I couldn’t help but relate it to our time and Nine Mile Prairie and Maria’s relationship to the sky, and Annie’s to the wind:

“Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth.  He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience; to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder upon it, to dwell upon it.  He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it.  He ought to imagine the creatures there are and all the faintest motions of the wind.  He ought to recollect the glare of the moon and the colors of the dawn and the dusk.” –N. Scott Momaday

Until next time…

Published in: on June 4, 2009 at 9:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Are We There Yet?

A week ago I left New York to spend some time at home.  Or did I leave my home to come and visit my past?  Or is the past my home?

Why does the “H” word inevitably flood us with questions?

A couple of nights after I flew into Mississippi a friend of mine sent me a message asking me if I “was home yet.”  As I was writing my reply I got hung up on the semantics, more specifically, the “H” word.  I replied with, “that’s a loaded question, but yes I’m…” and then I halted.  I typed the H expecting to follow with O-M-E, but when it came to typing out the word I couldn’t.  Instead, I wrote the word “here.”  I’m here, but is “here” the same as “home?”  More questions…

It reminds me of that other question, the one we were all asked at one point during the past few weeks, the kick-off point, “Where do you come from?”  It makes me angry because I don’t know, and I’m so tired of looking for it.  It seems to be a classically American sentiment, the not knowing, and along with everyone else I too just want to get there already.  I want to be able to answer the questions rather than them lead to even more. 

I, after three years in New York, made it back to the place I grew up, and the place where my family still lives, but I still couldn’t call this place home in a simple message.  And I realized, despite everything, that I still haven’t made it home.  So how do you know when you’ve finally made it home?  Is it a gut feeling, or a connection?  Does it have to be more than just a place?  Or does it have to be a place at all?  When, after the incessant wayward searching, can one finally stop asking questions?

Published in: on May 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

From Renee

As a teacher, I have given lectures on the Omaha Tribal Circle and our Origins in several classes for the Nebraska Indian Community College. I have even instructed the Omaha Tribal Council at different times. What I know, I share because my belief is that all people need to have this understanding. Here is the essay I told you of, it is currently being used at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, which is an Anishinaabe University in Ontario. The Academic/Spiritual Advisor of Shingwauk is the Grand Chief Eddie Benton-Banai of the Three Fires Society, who is also a member of the Lac Courte Oreille Band of Ojibwe in Wisconsin. The Grand Chief read this essay and asked my permission to use it at the university. 

Before Contact: Millennia of Our Own Teachings…
The Tribal Circle (in 3D)

By Renee Sans Souci

For indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, our tribal circles (or spheres) have existed for thousands of years. The tribal circle was based on the balance of everything that exists in the universe, the duality of masculine and feminine forces. 

To look at the symbol of the circle, you must imagine it as a sphere, with the top half of the circle representing the sky and the bottom half representing the earth. Around this sphere you also have the four cardinal directions, and the center, which represents the here and now or the human being. This ancient symbolism was reflected in all our tribal systems: governments, villages, homes, and within ourselves (the very act of breathing represents the duality of in and out).


Through our tribal educational systems, our clans, in particular, we were taught how to relate to the Sky and the Earth because as human beings we were composed of the same elements as both (spirit and matter). This relationship was one of respect, a mutual respect between all living matter. We had the understanding of what modern science terms “Relativity” and “Quantum Physics.” We understood our relationship to the microcosmic subatomic level on up to the macrocosmic universal level. We encompassed this understanding in one phrase: We Are All Related. The phrase acknowledged the spirit or energy that vibrates in all of us. The Omaha people called this energy Wakonda.

The tribal circle was the foundation of how we learned and survived. From the time we were born, we went through growth cycles. Ceremonies marked each stage of growth and we developed our teachings around the skills acquired at these benchmarks. In the Omaha system the men and women learned separately. We each had our own language, our own ceremonies, and our own societies. There was respect between the two sexes where neither was considered better than the other. We were complementary.

And, the one underlying method of teaching in our system was that no one was allowed to fail!

This did not mean that we lived in perfection, however, because there were always natural catastrophes, illness, and warfare that would disrupt our circles from time to time. Yet, we were always able to reestablish our circles through any conflict…especially now.

– Renee

Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 7:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Following the Path of the Play

Today I had a thought.  I wanted to do a rundown of each performance of HOME LAND—the strengths, weaknesses, thoughts about audience reactions, etc.—and write about how each one of the performances effected the life of the play.  But this afternoon as I was taking notes I was struck with an idea.  I took note of the fact that there were four performances in total, and my mind kept chewing over that number… four.  Four?  Why did I keep coming back to that?  But then it hit me:  the four cardinal directions.  North.  South.  East.  West.  I gained an entirely new perspective on the play as I mulled over this idea, and I couldn’t help but notice how the play traveled, each night, from one direction to the other.

 I pulled out my copy of HOME LAND and went to the list of “dramatis personae” remembering that Christopher had laid out how each compass point symbolizes a very specific idea:  Evelyn Kramer’s story and the West symbolize death and endings, Standing Bear’s story and the North represent the power of stories and trials, and so on.  But after my moments of introspection I realized that it wasn’t only the characters that embodied the points on the compass.  I realized that the run of the play also followed the path of the Sacred Circle:


 I think the first performance rested largely in the North.  If North represents the power of stories, and if every story must have a beginning, then this was the beginning of our story.  It was, so to speak, the initial gathering around the fire, the time to share all the stories within the play with each other, and with the audience.  I use the image of gathering around the fire quite intentionally for several reasons:  1) Standing Bear begins his story within the play by telling Matthias about the people who came from the water and built a fire, thus gathering around a hearth and creating home and stories, 2) together, the previous night, everyone quite literally “gathered around the fire” during the Sweat Lodge Ceremony, thus begging our story as a family together, and 3) if the North also represents trials then the phrase “trial by fire” describes the trials in which everyone took part during the run of the play…


 This was the matinee performance with the kids, and it was undoubtedly based in the South.  I say this because I, along with the rest of the cast and crew, are in agreement over the fact that the kids trusted the play more than any other audience.  They were there with the story the entire time, and really got at the TRUTH of the play more than any other audience as well.  And if the third theme of the South is friendship, then I think that sums up our slow coming together as a motley little family.  After a couple of days in Lincoln and two performances our friendships began to grow, and all of the trust and truth that is a part of that began to shine.


 At this performance we were visited by the tell-tale wasp, a veritable omen of metaphorical death.  The wasp traveled the four compass points landing on the actors and their scripts.  It was, after careful consideration, taken as an omen.  At that point, with a waning audience, everyone was in agreement that if the play were to continue down that path of that night, and seek that type of “show” and audience (for lack of a better way of putting it) then things were bound to end…


 Fortunately, everyone was able to read the sign and with the help of Dan’s blessing and our bond, the play finally landed in the East, the place of New Life.  Here we watched as James Garang finally speaks of finding a land for his heart, and we watched the proverbial rising sun of the East shine on all new possibilities, and a new life for each of those effected by the play, and new life for the play itself.  New Life suggests change, a change not unnoticed by anyone fortunate enough to experience this thing that seems so much bigger than ourselves.

Published in: on May 12, 2009 at 6:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Nine Mile Prairie

Today the cast, crew, and I were invited to spend some time at Nine Mile Prairie.  Nine Mile Prairie is a piece of land on the outskirts of Lincoln that is maintained to represent the Nebraskan prairie just as it was prior to European contact.  All of the plants and grasses in Nine Mile Prairie are native to this part of the country.  There’s tall rye grass, wild sage, native indigo, and some beautiful rolling sheets that bring up phrases like, “amber waves of grain,” or, “where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.”  I have quite a few pictures but unfortunately I left the cord that hooks my camera to my computer back in New York.

 It was the perfect day to experience the prairie life.  Maria whipped out the parasol and went Laura Ingles Wilder on us.  Annie reminded us to just stop for a moment and let the wind take us.  David found a deer antler.  The sky was that perfect Nebraskan blue.

 Sitting around our flatbed truck we stopped for a picnic among the flora and fauna, took some great pictures, and sat around bonding.  As we were getting ready to leave, windswept and sunburned, Renee reminded us that we should give an offering, and each of us were passed a handful of tobacco to give back.  I stood knee deep in tall grasses, held out my open palm, and watched as my offering was taken by the wind.

 (NOTE:  Be on the lookout in the near future for some beautiful pictures of our trip to Nine Mile Prairie.)

Published in: on May 9, 2009 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment  

A Dispatch of My Own

I realized while I was transcribing the actors notes about where they come from, that I left myself out.  Granted, I obviously wasn’t in the program, but it got me thinking about how I would answer that question.  I’ve decided, I’m not so sure I could answer the question, “where do you come from?”  But I can offer a little anecdote about one of my experiences of home.  This post is from a journal entry I wrote a few months ago after spending some time back home over the holidays…

Over the holidays I spent time with family at my maternal grandparent’s house in Booneville, Mississippi.  Yes, “Booneville.”  The name’s appropriate for sure, and undoubtedly the landscape of myopia, racism (phrases like “across the tracks” are still spoken during dinner conversation) poverty, and absence of any pretentiousness that the mind conjures up matches exactly what you’d imagine.  I was always under the impression that this was the type of place one should always try to escape from.  I never took time to think that maybe, just maybe, the place would ever refuse to escape you.

 Escape might be too strong a word.  It suggests a flee, an avoidance, which, looking back, is probably exactly what I was doing at the time though that type of avoidance has left me in the past few years.  Though I’d like to think I would never escape anything from my past now, I still know I wouldn’t come back to this place permanently.  Of course, I didn’t grow up in Booneville and I never lived there.  Instead, Booneville is a town of selective memory for me that rests its aged foundations about thirty miles north of my hometown.  This was the place of all those memories you’d expect from time with grandparents–food, weekend sleepovers, family functions—nothing special save for those who have it in their “here’s what childhood was” lockbox that lumps itself somewhere in the center of your brain.

 But Booneville was the type of place, or rather the archetype of place, I needed to get away from, if not for all the reasons above, then for a few extra that I won’t detail now.  But, like I said, I don’t know if I’ve ever really gotten away, or at least it’s never really gotten away from me.

 Before leaving for New York I went to college at the University of Mississippi (known to most as Ole Miss) in Oxford.  For most, Oxford as a town probably wouldn’t be categorized in the same context at Booneville, but for me it always was:  Booneville, Oxford, Tupelo, West Point, Amory, Jackson, all the places of my youth seemed the same to me… at least at the time.  Looking back, I don’t think I could ever romanticize Booneville, but Oxford had its charms.

  Oxford’s charms are those types of charms that you can’t see unless you have the ability to “look past.”  If you’re able to look past the pastel colored Polos and pleated khaki shorts you might just see William Faulkner’s charming, and rather beautiful house just off of Old Taylor Road.  If you’re able to look past the BMW’s and college football obsessions you might just see a lack of commercialization.  Unlike Tupelo, Oxford is impressive for its satisfying amount of local restaurants, cafes, and shops.  And if you are willing to see beyond the record DUI citations on a Friday night, you may just see a small coffee shop in downtown Oxford once called “Uptown Coffee.”

 Tapping espresso shots and slinging lattes as a barista at Uptown was my first college job, and still my favorite thanks to incredible people I worked with, and the ease of the atmosphere.  I left Uptown, and Oxford, in January of 2007 to come to New York.  Since then I’ve always held it in my mind that the two—Mississippi and New York—were separated not only by distance, but by chapters in my life:  the former was my past, the latter my present.  I guess it’s one of those things everyone learns soon enough… sometimes the past just won’t stay put.

 Just before leaving Uptown, the owner was preparing to franchise his store based on local success.  Our roastery, High Point coffee, and Uptown, thus set out to do just that.  The two converged and Uptown’s name was changed to High Point, and the subsequent franchises spread “High Point Coffee” around the U.S.

 A few weeks ago my roommate and I were walking in our neighborhood when we saw a sign:  “Coming Soon, High Point Coffee.”  After confirming with a friend back home I learned that this was indeed a product of franchising rather than coincidence.  It’s a bastardization of the Uptown Coffee I once knew; it’s too big for its own good and it more closely resembles a McDonald’s than an arthouse coffee shop, but the one-pound coffee bags say Oxford, Mississippi and the pastries in the display case are all too familiar.  It has since opened for business, and I pass by it everyday while running my errands.  There it stands, just five blocks from my apartment, closer even then the grocery store where I buy my cage free eggs and organic blueberries, like a testament to some universal truth:  home follows you wherever you go.

Published in: on May 9, 2009 at 2:11 am  Leave a Comment  

The Lovely Land of Lincoln

I think all of us, in some way or another, have fallen in love with Lincoln.  At least I have.  My first day here I called my mother and described the city as a “standard, middle American, nondescript city.”  I’ve changed my mind.  There’s a wonderful sense of community here, and the charm is palpable.

 I spent yesterday in some local shops, being taught by the people who live here and store clerks about the way Lincolnites do things: a salad isn’t a salad without Dorothy Lynch dressing, a true Nebraskan is a true Cornhusker fanatic, and the Haymarket District is the place to be.

 I was in a small gift shop yesterday looking for a few trinkets from my trip.  I fell in love with the prairie kitsch—small statuettes of windmills, pictures of wolves howling at the moon, and red and blue popcorn (who knew?)—and wanted to scoop up a little bit of everything.

 We’ve been lucky with weather.  Everyday has been sunny, in the seventies, and the spirits are high.  Everyone’s fallen in love with the wide open skies.  New Yorkers are apt to do that, I guess.  Our sky is always tunnel visioned, “Oh, look!  There’s a small sliver of blue right there!  See between those buildings?”  There are no buildings to “scrape” the sky here, it’s all untouched.

 Inside jokes and stories keep us laughing in the van every night after performance, and every time one of us goes into a store, even if it’s just for a quick second, we get a good ten minute friendly conversation from the people working there.  Gas station clerks, and college kids serving ice cream at the local parlor end up in our pictures, and everyone’s always smiling and open to talk.  During our first performance I met two women who pointed out different locals and told me there stories, “You know, you’re sitting right in front of the best cheese maker in Nebraska!”  I’m loving it.  Everyone around has made us all feel right at home.

Published in: on May 9, 2009 at 1:23 am  Leave a Comment  

On Journey

I am sitting backstage in the Johnny Carson Theater at the Lied Center for the Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Beyond the stage doors the cast of Home Land is performing for a full house.  Already, we are halfway through the mutual journey we’re sharing.  Tomorrow will be the last performance of Home Land, and on Saturday we’ll all return to the places we came from.  But until that time the journey continues.

It’s a loaded word, “journey.”  Over the past two days all of us have come to recognize a mutuality to our current situation—that, yes, we are all on our own journey, but together we are experiencing a collective one.  I’ve sat and watched over the past two days, and I’ve seen how all of us have come together in a way that, with a tight and headstrong assurance, we are meant to be here.

Today, Annie, Maria, Teddy, LeRoy and I were sitting in local coffee shop called The Mill.  I’ve come to learn quickly, despite any true knowledge of Lincoln, that The Mill is indeed what Christopher calls, “Lincoln’s coffee Mecca.”  As we were sitting in the coffee shop Maria approached a young woman to ask about the local scene:  the shopping, dining, and all the frontier kitsch we can get our “hailing-from-the-Big-City” hands on.  As Maria and the rest of us talk to this woman we learn that she is working with a woman who is both working on a project about Sudanese refugees and writing a play about the same subject.  Our eyes are fixed, but I glance at my friends around the table and see mouths open with flickers of amazement and recognition.  Christopher’s play involves a Sudanese refugee who finds placement in a Lincoln home via the Heartland Resettlement Project.  The woman wants to spend time with us, to talk to Christopher, to weave the paths of separate journey into a single walk.  We are bringing people together, the people involved are mutually putting ideas into the world, and we laugh at the idea that it could ever be anything as benign as coincidence.

It doesn’t end there.  Annie tells us a story of a dream she had that saves her infant son’s life.  Over the past two days she has come forward as the one who would not write off the events of our days together as coincidence.  The word “random” is stricken from vocabulary, and we all take that to heart as we look for signs that prove we are meant to be just where we are.

Jeremy, the only current Lincolnite among the cast, will be moving to a new home next Monday in another state, and he finds himself, just before leaving to redefine his notion of home, acting out Christopher’s words about home, about their shared homeland of Nebraska.  I can’t speak for Jeremy, but how must it feel to act out an ode to his home, just before he gives a final bow to this home?  This journey is for Jeremy

After a matinee performance for a local high school, Christopher tells us that a young girl approaches him and tells him that before seeing his play she was unsure of her choice of college, and after witnessing the performance she no longer questions that her home is Nebraska, and she no longer questions that she wants to spend her college years in her homeland.  I can’t speak for that young girl, but how must it feel to gain an assurance in her place in the world.  This journey is for that girl who no longer has to question.

As for me?  This past Monday I finished my undergraduate career at New York University, and on Tuesday morning I came here, to this place.  I’ll be leaving New York to head back to my home state of Mississippi next week.  This week spent in Nebraska, between my home of three years in New York, and the home I come from, Mississippi, has forced me to think about home as well.  After experiencing the events of this week I too, like the young Nebraskan girl, can finally recognize what home means to me.  And for once my fears and reservations of finding a home between my two worlds are quelled, knowing that I can find home if I am willing to be brave enough to ask the questions, and remember to listen for the answers.  This journey is for me.

As Christopher ends his nights with an audience, I say to you, Safe Home Everyone.

Published in: on May 8, 2009 at 2:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Where We Come From

If you have ever been to the theater, you know that at the beginning of every performance the audience members receive a program of the production they’re about to see.  In the program you’re apt to find brief biographies of each member of the cast and crew.  Within the bios you’ll undoubtedly find a list of past productions each of these people have worked on and, perhaps, a sentence or two about the person himself.  I think one of the more inspired choices that Christopher and Kristin, the director of the piece, had was to disregard the standard bios of all of the cast and crew, and replace them with notes about their homelands.  Each of the actors and crew members were asked to write a brief note about their homes and relationship to home.  The play, Home Land, asks the same question that Chief Standing Bear asked during his fight to return to his homeland, “Where do you come from?”  The cast and crew answer that question thusly:


CHRISTOPHER CARTMILL (Playwright):  I was born in Kansas, thirty miles north of Ponca City, Oklahoma.  After years of moving around along with my father’s work and my mother’s energy—Texas (twice), Kansas (four times) and Tennessee (twice)—my family settled in Nebraska.  It is a place to which I have always returned and, more often than any other place, called “my home.”  Learning about Standing Bear has inspired me to attempt to understand what that truly means.


KRISTIN HORTON (Director):  The question, “where is your home?” has always been somewhat problematic as well as very easy to answer.  Growing up my father was in the Air Force and we moved often.  I can to know this idea of home to be wherever my family was living.  I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, but my first memories of “home—my earliest memories of my mom and dad occurred in England.  I’m also nostalgic for the Midwest, Texas, Atlanta, Germany, Washington, D.C., and Scotland as former “homes.”  Today I make a home in New York—it’s the center for much of my work as well as an intersection of these many past lives.  My parents live in North Carolina, and during certain times of the year, even though I’ve never lived there, it becomes a special kind of home.


LEROY McCLAIN (James Garang/The Raven):  LeRoy McClain is delighted to be a part of Home Land and to share the experience with this talented and distinguished group of artists.  He is originally from Huntingdon, England, but has made his home in several places including Honolulu, Hawaii; Austin, Texas; Los Angeles, California; New Haven, Connecticut and presently New York, New York.  For varied reasons, he carries each place with him as he moves forward… like a proud set of mismatched luggage.


MARIA TERESA CREASEY (Francine “Marcel” Barrault/Caroline Selma):  Maria Teresa Creasey isn’t really sure where home is.  She was born in San Francisco, CA to a mother directly from Bogota, Colombia, and a green card slaying dad from London via Derby in the UK.  As a little girl she loved marmite more than arequipe, (even though she can make a mean obleas with arequipe) only because she was so white looking in comparison to the rest of her Spanish relatives.  She never really felt like she belonged in that  world especially since people always thought her mom was her nanny.  She then found her independence and went to boarding school in Monterey, CA, followed by college in New York City.  She has been in NYC for ten years.  It’s a home of sorts, but for some reason she will always leave her heart in San Francisco, her soul in England and keep searching for home…


ANNIE HENK (Dr. Suzette Clairmont/Helena Burning Path):  I am from New York City.  I was born in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan to be exact—in a hospital that no longer exists.  In order to make way for progress, it was converted into a condominium.  I am the eldest of eight siblings.  I was forced to move from Manhattan to Queens, due to family circumstances (obviously beyond my control at age seven.)  As soon as I was old enough, I moved, and have been on the move since.  I know where I am from.  I am learning to embrace my nomadic ways in the hope of finding where I’m going—because I have not found home.


TEDDY CANEZ (Amedeo Beltran de Fortuna/Raphael Martinez):  I was born in San Diego, California.  My mother is from Imuris, Mexico and my father is from Mexico City, Mexico.  I am a first generation Mexican American.  While being born in San Diego, I mostly grew up in the desert town of Tucson, Arizona.  Having lived in many places since leaving the Desert, “what is my home” has changed.  My current geographical home is in Astoria, New York.  My home is my wife’s heart.  Our Cat, “Beeps.”  My home is in the hearts and smiles of where my friends and family are.  I fell honored to be here with my colleagues and with you.  Thank you for being here, for sharing your time with us.


KATHRYN LAYNG HWANG (Evelyn Kramer/Sarah Spatig):  If we were in Rockford, IL where I was born, I would say “Brooklyn” where I live with my husband, son and daughter.  If we were in Brooklyn, I’d say “I’m a Midwesterner from outside Chicago” to synthesize my cultural background.  If you wanted my ethnic background, I’d say English, Irish, French-Swiss, Lithuanian, Polish and German, although I have no personal ties to these countries anymore.  When people see me with my daughter they assume I adopted her from China; I tell them, “she takes after her father,” and watch them puzzle.  As an actress I lived in Los Angeles for five years, as well as many other places, and consider my “Home” a fluid, living creation.  I welcome this opportunity to explore being from Here for these five days!


JEREMY KENDALL (“Tricky” Pete Cerny/Matthias Paine):  I have resided in Nebraska City, Nebraska; Vinita, Oklahoma; Langley, Oklahoma; Keys, Oklahoma; Bellevue, Nebraska; Fort Defiance, Arizona; Denison, Iowa; Neosho, Missouri; Gallup, New Mexico; Fort Defiance, Arizona (again); Talihina, Oklahoma; Shiprock, New Mexico; Wilburton, Oklahoma; Tahlequah, Oklahoma; Lincoln, Nebraska; Los Angeles, California; Lincoln, Nebraska (again); and soon to be Cleveland, Ohio.  All of these towns are where I have lived or am going to live.  I have left a piece of myself in each one of these places and I carry a piece of each with me.  My love for the Huskers, from Nebraska.  My love for the arts, from Arizona.  My love for fishing, from Oklahoma.  My love for movies from California.  My love for nature, from New Mexico.  However, I don’t call a single one of these places “home.”  They are just where I’ve been, where I am and where I am going.  What do they all have in common?  Me.


DAN C. JONES (Chief Standing Bear/Tall Cedars):  South and West of Ponca City, Oklahoma is where I ate my first small fist full of dirt, as well as traded my first pocket knife had my first fist fight and kissed my first girl.  It’s where I came home to bury my father and later my mother.  In my dreams I always saw somewhere else I’d rather be, until I was there.  Then I dreamed of home, running up and down the river bans a pack of Ponca Indian boys chasing rabbits, fireflies and bees.


DAVID STRATHAIRN (Lt.-Colonel Michael Hanrahan/Samuel Lauritzen):  I suppose you could say I come to Lincoln, Nebraska, all the way from San Francisco, California, where I was born.  Although this week I simply came to Lincoln “from” the Hudson River Valley of New York State.  But that doesn’t really tell very much.  If I say I come from where my parents “came from,”Utah and Hawaii, and where their parents “came from,” Scotland and the Pacific Islands, and Canada and West Virginia, that tells a little more of the story.  Or that I’m “from” all the “places” I’ve camped out along the way since—San Francisco, Utah, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, New York.  That tells even more.  The reality is that I probably “come from” all those places, and all those people, in one way or another.  But the more revealing question might be, where do you really feel, “at home?”


RENEE SANS SOUCI (Narrator):  I come from the Umoho Nation.  My tribe came from the East.  We moved into this area about 400 years ago and created a loving relationship with the hills, rivers, streams, and medicines of this land, just as we made relatives with all the tribes who were here before us.  My people are the Saunsoci Family, whose origins also lie in France.  My father was Frank Saunsoci and my mother is Alice (Freemont) Saunsoci, both raised on the Omaha Indian Reservation, where I also resided for a time.  As a Native woman, I have three different Indian names.  The first Indian name I was given was when I was a child and that name is Susette.  I was named after one of my grandmothers, Susette LaFlesche Turner, wife of Grandpa John Turner.  My second Indian name is Sacred Horse Woman, given to me in a traditional ceremony twenty years ago.  My third Indian name is Woman Who Walks With Children, which I received last year in another traditional ceremony.  I walk with all of these names with honor and respect.  And, lastly, I am also known as Renee Sans Souci, born in Lincoln Nebraska or NiSkithe ToNwoN (Salt Town.)  WibthahoN!  Ewithai WoNgithe!  Thank you!  All my relations!


RICHARD ENDE (Production Manager):  I was born of Italian Irish and Dutch ancestry in New York and have spent my entire life making my geographic home in the greater New York area.  What is home?  Where is home?  Growing up at home was much like “Leave it To Beaver.”  Home was a loving shelter from reality.  It seemed like home.  I remember visiting my mom’s family in West Virginia other than the fact that, like my mom people there often went without shoes.  I felt at home, but not home.  Dad, and his dad as far back as 1700 all from New York.  Is New York my blood home?  How long do you have to be in a place to call it your home?  Home for me is being with the people I love.  To feel and to contribute to the collective warmth of my true home.  I am home.  Oh, and stop by anytime.

Published in: on May 8, 2009 at 2:29 am  Leave a Comment